Cardinal Zen found guilty in Hong Kong trial (CNA) Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired Bishop of Hong Kong, was found guilty on November 25 on charges of failing to register a charitable fund that provided legal help for defendants accused of violating China’s draconian new “security” law.
The cardinal and five co-defendants will be required to pay a fine equivalent to $500.
After his conviction, Cardinal Zen said that the case should not be seen as a violation of religious freedom. But the 90-year-old cardinal, an outspoken supporter of democracy, hinted that the conviction was a violation of other human rights. He identified himself as “a Hong Kong citizen who strongly supports providing humanitarian assistance.”
The Vatican had avoided comment on Cardinal Zen’s case. But after the verdict was released, the Vatican News service issued a carefully worded report, pointing out that the law under which the cardinal and his co-defendants were sentenced allowed an exemption for organizations “”exclusively for religious, charitable, social or recreational purposes.”
The Vatican News story concluded with a noteworthy statement, acknowledged Cardinal Zen’s fight for religious freedom but muting his accusations against Beijing by using the word “allegedly”:
In the past, Cardinal Zen has also criticized the Chinese Communist Party for allegedly persecuting religious communities.
Papal message to 'martyred' people of Ukraine (Vatican News) In an open letter to the people of Ukraine, written nine months after the start of the Russian invasion, Pope Francis expresses his sympathy and promises his prayers.
“There is no day when I am not close to you and do not carry you in my heart and in my prayers,” the Pontiff writes. “Your pain is my pain.”
In the letter the Pope again condemns “the absurd madness of war.” He also voices his admiration for the people of Ukraine: “a strong people, a people that suffers and prays, cries and struggles, resists and hopes: a noble and martyred people.”
Pope names two women to high Vatican posts (Vatican News) Pope Francis has named two women to take ranking positions in the Roman Curia.
Raffaela Giuliani, who has been serving as an official on the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology, was named secretary of that Commission—which will now be headed by Msgr. Pasquale Iacobone.
Antonella Sciarrone Alibrandi, the vice-rector of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, was named undersecretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education.
Bishop Stika, Knoxville diocese to face apostolic visitation (Pillar) Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington have been asked to conduct an apostolic visitation of the Diocese of Knoxville (TN), according to the report. The visitation follows a meeting between the metropolitan archbishop, Archbishop Shelton Fabre of Louisville, and Knoxville’s priests.
Pope: Women can give more 'flavor' to theology (Vatican News) On November 24, Pope Francis received members of the International Theological Commission, an advisory body of theologians led by the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Warning against “backwardism,” the Pope called for “creative fidelity to Tradition,” collegiality, and openness to other disciplines. Women can make theology “more profound and more ‘flavorful,’” he added.
Bishop chairmen implore Congress to reverse course on harmful Respect for Marriage Act (USCCB) Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester (MN), chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, urged members of the House and Senate to reject the Respect for Marriage Act.
In July, the House passed the bill in a 267-157 vote; the Senate has advanced an amended version, supposedly more compatible with religious liberty, in a 62-37 vote.
“The Respect for Marriage Act’s rejection of timeless truths about marriage is evident on its face and in its purpose,” Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Barron wrote on November 23. “It would also betray our country’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty ... If passed, the amended Act will put the ministries of the Catholic Church, people of faith, and other Americans who uphold a traditional meaning of marriage at greater risk of government discrimination.”
Pope links plight of Ukrainians today to Stalin's genocide (AP) Pope Francis made his strongest statement to date against the war in Ukraine during his public audience on November 23, comparing the conflict to the genocide of the Stalin era.
“Saturday begins the anniversary of the terrible genocide of the Holodomor, the extermination by starvation artificially caused by Stalin between 1932-1933,” Pope Francis said on November 23. “Let us pray for the victims of this genocide and let us pray for so many Ukrainians — children, women, elderly, babies — who today are suffering the martyrdom of aggression.”
Court dismisses Becciu's lawsuit against Italian magazine (Pillar) Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu oversaw the internal affairs of the Roman Curia as Substitute (Sostituto) of the Secretariat of State from 2011 to 2018. Pope Francis created him a cardinal in the 2018 consistory and named him Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In 2020, Becciu resigned from the “rights connected to the cardinalate.”
Becciu then filed a lawsuit against L’Espresso, alleging that its coverage “contributed unfairly to the Pope’s decision to fire Becciu, damaged his reputation, and cost Becciu the chance of being elected Pope in a future conclave.” A court has dismissed the lawsuit and ordered Becciu to pay the magazine’s legal costs.
Papal prayer for Java earthquake victims, World Cup in Qatar (Vatican News) On November 23, following the West Java earthquake, Pope Francis said, “I express my nearness to that dear population and I pray for the dead and the injured.”
“I would like to send my greetings to the athletes, fans and spectators who are following the football World Championship taking place in Qatar,” he added at the conclusion of his weekly general audience, in which he reflected on spiritual consolation. “May this important event be an occasion for encounter and harmony among the nations, fostering fraternity and peace among peoples.”
Vatican official: Agreement on appointment of Chinese bishops is not new in Church history (Fides) Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, Secretary of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts, compared the appointment of Chinese bishops today to the appointment of Spanish bishops during the regime of Francisco Franco.
“The government presented three names, and the Pope chose,” he said.
Bishop Arrieta distinguished between cultural adaptations and the non-negotiable “essential things” of the Church’s nature. The latter, he said, “are few.”
German bishops' president: 'We want to be Catholic in a different way' (CNA) Following a frank discussion between the German bishops and Curial leaders over the German Synodal Way, the president of the bishops’ conference said, “We want to be Catholic in a different way.”
“The Pope is a clever Jesuit,” said Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg. “He let us wrestle with one another as brothers.” Bishop Bätzing expressed gratitude that no clear limits on the German bishops’ actions emerged from their visit to Rome, which included a meeting with the Pope.
On the other hand, Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau emphasized that the prefects of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Bishops made “no concessions.” Irme Stetter-Karp, co-president of the Synodal Way, said that the “fundamental criticism of the Synodal Way” at the Vatican “not only snubs the German bishops, who overwhelmingly consider reforms necessary,” but “also disregards the impatience of many Catholics with their Church.”
Vatican memos warned economic reforms could become 'charade' (Pillar) Internal Vatican memos, obtained by The Pillar, warned in 2016 that Vatican economic reforms were in danger of becoming a “charade,” as the Secretariat of State moved to undercut the authority of the Secretariat for the Economy.
The memos said that the economic reforms would have “no real substance” if auditors were prevented from carrying out their responsibilities. The Pillar revealed, on the basis of the leaked memos, that the Secretariat of State had not only stalled an external audit, but also sought to eliminate funding for the Council for the Economy.
The 2016 memos also show that the Vatican’s auditor general at the time, Libero Milone, had embarked on an investigation into “irregularities” in the accounts of APSA, the Vatican’s investment arm, and saw “significant exposure to fraud.” Milone was soon forced to resign; he has recently filed suit charging that his dismissal was a bid to cover up misconduct.
Pope, at audience, speaks of spiritual consolation (Vatican News) At his regular weekly public audience on November 23, Pope Francis continued his series of talks on discernment, speaking about the gift of spiritual consolation.
Consolation, he explained, is “a profound experience of interior joy, consisting in seeing God’s presence in everything.” He spoke about how great saints have experienced consolation, and how that experience “reaches out to the future, puts us on a journey, allows us to take the initiative that had always been postponed or not even imagined.”
US commission examines relation between official religions, religious freedom (US Commission on International Religious Freedom) In 2021, 40 nations had an official religion, and an additional 38 “either explicitly or implicitly favored one religion or a small group of religions,” according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“Contrary to popular misconception, there is no inevitable contradiction between freedom of religion or belief and a country’s adoption of an official or favored religion,” the Commission found. “Conversely, the absence of an official or favored religion is no guarantee of a country’s protection or promotion of FoRB [freedom of religion or belief].”
Pope ousts leaders of Caritas International (Vatican News) Pope Francis has replaced the top leaders of Caritas International, the worldwide consortium of Catholics charities.
The unexpected move comes after an independent review of Caritas International, which produced a report that “real deficiencies were noted in management and procedures, seriously prejudicing team spirit and staff morale.”
Aloysius John, the president of Caritas International, has been removed from office—along with the group’s vice-presidents, treasurer, and general secretary. Pope Francis has named Pier Francesco Pinelli as temporary administrator.
The Vatican emphasized that the review did not uncover any financial or sexual misconduct. In fact, despite the drastic action to replace top staff, the Dicastery for Integral Human Development insisted that “financial matters have been well handled.”
Bishop offers glimpse into life of Christians in Qatar (Pillar) Qatar (map), a nation of 2.5 million that is 79% Muslim, is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Bishop Paul Hinder of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia spoke about the World Cup and Qatar’s Christians, most of whom are non-citizen migrant workers from South Asia.